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Conflict And Struggle

Trudeau turns wrath on insulting signs

Regina Leader Post
July 17, 1969 p.1

SASKATOON (CP) - An angry Prime Minister Trudeau told a crowd of farmers Thursday that if they want to see him again they should not bring signs to the meeting saying he is a pig and hustles women.

The prime minister was using a bullhorn to address to a crowd of some 800 in front of the Bessborough Hotel.

The crowd listened to him in silence in contrast to a Regina crowd Wednesday which booed him and shouted him down.

Mr. Trudeau thanked the Saskatoon audience "for the respect you've shown."

He added in a reference to the Regina meeting that some things are not argument but insult.

"If you want to see me again, don't bring signs saying 'Trudeau is a pig' and 'hustles women'.

"I didn't get into politics to be insulted."

"You're trying to hustle us," somebody shouted.

Mr. Trudeau said nothing further and left for the airport.

At the Wednesday demonstration in Regina somebody carried a placard saying, "hustle grain, not women."

Another placard read: "Our P.E.T. is a pig."

Mr. Trudeau agreed to address the crowd briefly after an hour-long meeting with representatives of the Saskatchewan Farmers' Union.

From the hotel entrance to a nearby truck, which he used as a platform, Mr. Trudeau was pelted with handfulls of wheat.

Lying on the sidewalk and road was a pile of foul-smelling spoiled wheat.

The entire area in front of the hotel was filled with people and farm tractors. All traffic was stopped. The sound system broke down and a bullhorn was fetched for the prime minister.

Mr. Trudeau said the western farmer has a genuine problem and that his government is trying to find a good solution for it.

He rejected, as he did in the meeting with the union, the farmers' demand for acreage payments of up to $2,000 a farmer.

The prime minister said some farmers have capital investments of $100,000 or more.

"We can't give money away to the rich," he said.

Payments of $2,000 to wealthy farmers could not be explained by the government to other Canadians. Druing the meeting with the delegation headed by Roy Atkinson, union president, Mr. Trudeau said that if farms are not economic they should not remain farms.

He suggested that the government would be willing to buy uneconomic units and pay farmers salaries to run them.

On the retirement or death of these farmers, the land would pass to the government and not to another generation of farmers. This would prevent uneconomic farms being handed from father to son forever.

"I think this would make sense to the people of Canada," Mr. Trudeau said.

However, the problem remained of what to do about helping farmers temporarily on good, economic farms.

Mr. Trudeau offered the suggestion that farmers sell or lease some of their land to the government in exchange for cash grants.

Mr. Atkinson said the Canadian car industry has been granted tax write-offs.

"Did General Motors sell or mortgage part of itself to the government in exchange?" he asked.

Another member of the delegation said federal civil servants have received 30 per cent salary increases in this decade.

"Did they take a means test?"

Mr. Trudeau said there should be some form of "cash injection" but it shouldn't be free to the rich.

He asked how acreage payments could be made to all farmers whether they are making profit or loss.